When it comes to adult soft drinks there are some good options but I don’t like any that are overly sickly and sweet. Fruit juices can be good but they are a little dull; I’m after something which is a bit snazzy. A drink where there has been a little effort put in. My no alcohol pomegranate mojito is so easy to make and packed full of flavour, the pinks and greens are so lovely together and using tonic rather than lemonade gives this mojito a nice bitterness. I made these recently for two guests that came round as I knew both of them wouldn’t be drinking and they went down a treat. You can’t go wrong with mint and lime together as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll stick a herb in pretty much anything and adding or infusing herbs in drinks or cocktails is always delicious. My Orange and Rosemary Martini is particularly excellent for two reasons: first, it uses those fantastic big oranges that you can get at this time of year and second, that faint hint of rosemary is so distinctive it makes for a really refreshing martini. It looks inviting, it’s easy to make and the flavours take the edge of a plain martini (which I can find a bit harsh). This would work really well with leftover rosemary in the back of the fridge, or those sprigs you popped in the freezer. However you make it, and you should, make sure you’ve got a nice comfy chair and a book ready and waiting.
I made my quince gin as a way to use some of those delicious fuzzy fruits that grow in the garden. The gin has come out a wonderful, pale canary yellow colour and makes a divine gin and tonic. It is in fact so delicious that it deserved a mix up of its own, something to complement the quince’s distinctive flavour. I love using herbs in drinks and puddings and I wanted to add a botanical twang to this drink. A Lime, Thyme and Quince Gin Cocktail is the way forward. Trust me.
You will need (per drink):
I am very familiar with the flavour of bergamot, being an avid Earl Grey fan, but I had never seen or tasted the bergamot lemon itself. A mystical fruit that I thought was confined to tea makers and lucky Mediterranean gardens. Then I found I could order some beautiful organic ones along with my veg box; it would be rude not to. My first thought when I got them was to add a slice to some hot water, just to smell and taste them. But then I remembered I had some gin, and, you know, why not? Hello bergamot gin and tonic.
I have been so busy this year that I have run out of time to make my own sloe gin. It’s not the end of the world though as I have some of last year’s stash left and once that’s gone there are some delicious ready steeped and drained sloe gins around. As much as I enjoy a classic sloe gin and tonic there’s much enjoyment to be had mixing up something different.
I love this time of year in Britain; when the weather is getting warmer and warmer but it hasn’t quite got to the muggy stage and it’s still nice and cool at night. There are flowers in the hedges and the fruit has started growing on the trees; most of my time is spent outside and as far as I’m concerned, shoes are optional. I have done plenty of cooking with elderflower in the past and it seemed an ideal time to try out something slightly different and obscenely summery: Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Gin.
I like tea and I like gin. I particularly like earl grey and gin based cocktails so I thought it was about time that I got creative with my cocktail shaker and tried these two tastes together. Not for my own benefit of course, all in the name of experimenting. Whenever I make a cocktail I am always amazed at how the slight slip of a hand can affect the end taste of the drink; too sweet, too acidic, too much alcohol. Then again, you can add a bit more of this and a bit less of that depending on your tastes.
Laimon Fresh is a natural sparkling drink made with lemon, lime and mint. I tried it first on its own and liked the balance of flavours; a bit more lemon or lime wouldn’t hurt though. I have also tried it with gin and vodka and it worked very well with both as a mixer. Because of the distinct flavour of this I can see myself happily drinking it throughout the Summer as it is or mixed with all sorts of things. Having a few cans of this in the fridge ready to go means that I can add a bit of flavour when the mood takes me.
It’s nice to have a cupboard full of foraged wares. Currently I am housing sloe port made with sloes that were steeping in gin for two years, a nine month damson gin and I am now using the gin soaked damsons to kick off a batch of damson port. I’ve been busy. As nice as it is to sip the damson gin like a thin fruity syrup it’s also nice to be able to jazz it up sometimes.
After nine months of steeping the damson gin has come out a glorious, deep, rich red colour and it is asking to be made into a long drink. This is my perfect summer evening tipple. If I don’t have lemonade in the house it is just as good with a bit of tonic. It doesn’t look fancy, it’s not got any frills but when it tastes this good and fresh it doesn’t need any.
You will need (for two long cocktails):
- Around 150g strawberries
- A few mint leaves
- 100ml gin
- 50ml elderflower syrup
- Tonic or soda to top up
Remove the green bits of your strawberries and put them into a large glass or jug with the mint leaves. Bash, bruise and beat the strawberries and mint together until well muddled. I thought it looked and smelled pretty good at this stage without anything else added. I was surprised how much juice came out of the strawberries.
Add the elderflower syrup and gin and mix together. Pour this into two tall glasses and top up with tonic or soda. Be careful when you top the glass up as when I topped up with tonic the slushy fruity bit started to froth out over the top. Slowly but surely was my friend for topping this up. Add a few fresh mint leaves and a strawberry to the glass if you’re feeling adventurous.